As part of the JOLT (Justice Organizers, Leadership and Treasurers) ICCR coalition, members had been sharing ideas about community investing and helping each other to develop their own congregation programs. The JOLT Coordinator researched and presented credit memos on new loan prospects at their meetings and nonprofit organizations were invited to JOLT meetings to educate members on new ideas or to report on achievements. As the need for larger loans became evident, members pooled their resources and made loans together with the Dominican Sisters of San Rafael acting as the fiscal agent.
Eventually the members realized that nonprofits needed larger loans and these required more rigorous credit analysis and monitoring than the Congregations could provide. Feeling a strong commitment to continue this ministry of economic justice because of the impact it made, the Congregations began to discuss the possibility of collaborating instead of each congregation having its own program.
Through the JOLT coalition they participated in discussions for almost two years to determine the purpose and structure of the fund. The fund was incorporated in 2008 with ten founding Congregations and received its first investments in January, 2009, which totaled $3 million dollars.
The Sponsors wanted the fund to continue to offer below market rate loans. The critical factor was to empower low-income people through access to affordable capital, whether through housing, small business development, childcare, or helping nonprofits that provided services. Intermediaries like community development loan funds and credit unions were excellent partners in this ministry and many of them began with investments from the sisters. International microfinance institutions were a channel that enabled the sisters to fund projects in lands where they had been missionaries. The focus became to remain as efficient, effective and prophetic as when the funds were directly managed by the sisters.